Police are today hunting a killer who viciously stabbed to death a mother of five in a remote Hampshire field.

Officers revealed this morning that the victim was Penelope Ann Davis, 47, who lived and worked in the Blackfield area and was a former Daily Echo member of staff. 

Daily Echo:

Penelope, known locally Pennie, had been tending to her horses in the field off Lyndhurst Road in Beaulieu when the attack was believed to have happened.

It was her husband who made the horrific discovery of her body. 

According to the police officer leading the case, Det Sup Paul Barton, Mrs Davis, visited the paddock opposite Leytree Farm daily and on Tuesday afternoon had arranged to meet her husband in the field after work.

Det Sup Barton said: "He found her lying in the field and on closer examination he could see that she had suffered serious injuries."

Mr Davis then contacted the emergency services who arrived at 4.30pm, but Mrs Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say Mrs Davis was well known in the Blackfield area where she worked locally in a supermarket.

Her husband and children were said to be "absolutely devastated" and were being looked after by specially trained police officers.

Daily Echo:

Pennie Ann Davis

Meanwhile, a team of more than 70 officers have today been involved in the hunt for her killer.

Hampshire police would not comment on whether the murder weapon had been found but said it was believed to be some sort of knife.

The farm opposite the murder scene which has also been subject to a police cordon was not part of the investigation, Det Sup Barton said.

Daily Echo:

He said he was keeping an open mind on the motive of the killer: "It is a hypothesis that Mrs Davis was known to her killer but equally she may have not have done.

"This was a vicious attack in a remote area and we do not have the benefit of CCTV or automatic number plate recognition or any of the other things that we can usually rely on.

"However, this is a busy short cut used by a number of people in the area and we would like to hear from anybody who was in the area and was using the road at the material time on Tuesday."

Det Sup Barton also appealed for any tourists who were in the area, perhaps on an open top bus tour that also goes past the field and anybody who may have visited a river who runs to the side of the field.

Daily Echo:

Det Sup Paul Barton at a press conference

Mrs Davis was understood to have been a relatively new tenant of the paddock where she kept a couple of horses, according to police.

This afternoon forensic teams were continuing to search the field where the murder took place. Officers dressed in white boiler suits were alongside crime scene investigators conducting a finger tip search of the field.

The investigation has been code named Operation Biscotti and is urging anyone with information who was in the area to contact the investigation team on 101 or anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.